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  1. #1
    splash splash1986's Avatar
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    Default Group of 104 on trail in NC

    Hi Friends,

    This is my first post in years, but I am a long time reader of the site. I wanted to share an experience I had this weekend while doing a three day hike and hear fellow hikers take on the situation. I started my hike at Standing Indian Campground, and my plan was to camp on Standing Indian Mountain to enjoy the sunset on Friday night. All was great at first, I passed through Standing Indian Shelter, signed the register, then proceeded up to the mountain and set up camp fairly early, around 4pm or so and settled in to enjoy the view.
    Around 6 pm, a couple of guys show up, and tell me that they are ahead of a large group they are bringing in to stay on the mountain for the night. No worries, I think, there seems to be plenty of room, and after sunset I will be passed out in my tent anyway. Iíll note that at this point Iím already set up for the night, with my tent up and my sleeping pad and bag unrolled. I asked the guys how many they had in the group. The answer was 104. Thatís not an exaggeration. They were bringing literally 104 people up the mountain. If you have been to Standing Indian, you know that there is not enough room for that many people.
    So long story short, this group comes up and completely overruns the site and entire mountainside. They could have cared less about me already being there. At this point, I think that like most hikers, they will settle down and get some rest. No such luck. These guys up at all hours, including the whole group getting up at 2AM for a prayer session. I asked them completely to keep voices and noise down, however in a group that large no one was listening. So, as you can imagine, not much sleep was had.
    Now, I suppose in hind sight, if I had a do over, I would have just picked up and moved on when the big group arrived, however I was where I wanted to be for the night, and hell, I was there first. So I didnít feel especially inclined to move. I packed up early, hiked while watching the sunrise, and enjoyed my nice rainy hike on Saturday.

    So, Iíll ask the hiking community, has anyone had a similar experience? If so, how did you handle it? Iím all for free use of the trail, however I donít believe the AT is the place to bring a group of 104. The facilities/ sites are just not equipped to handle it. Iíll note also that I picked up and packed out at least 10 items/ trash on the trail that likely came from this group. On my way out also. Sorry for the long post, but I am curious to hear your thoughts. And by the way, the sunset at Standing Indian was totally worth it.

  2. #2
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    I think it was an outrageous and inexcusable violation of all good hiker and trail norms. I can't say that there was any better action than what you did. Actually, I think you showed tremendous restraint.

    If at any point this group passed through a wilderness area, they likely violated USFS regulations and could have been ticketed. However, I don't know how you could have reached a ranger at that time. Short of gathering information on the group members to pass on to officials, which could have placed you at risk, I think you did all that was possible.

  3. #3

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    Nothing you could do about the situation at the time. Moving on would have been the best plan. I would have dressed the leader up and down and loudly before I left though.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  4. #4
    splash splash1986's Avatar
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    I do have the groups information.... it was call 4musa. Apparently they take folks out for wilderness spiritual experiences or something. I did express my displeasure to who I think was the leader the next morning, and they did apologize and offer me food, water, etc.

    I plan on contacting the local Nantahala Ranger Station when they open tomorrow.

  5. #5

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    I got to wonder how much of a spirital wilderness expereince camping with 104 other people and trashing the top of a mountain is? And is this a racket I can cash in on too?

    Definately report them, but I suspect they already know about them. Can't be the first time they did this.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  6. #6
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    8741B556-CDE4-4B5A-81B6-280D29CAF8FB.jpeg
    it doesn’t appear to have been a secret meeting.
    enemy of unnecessary but innovative trail invention gadgetry

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    I got to wonder how much of a spirital wilderness expereince camping with 104 other people and trashing the top of a mountain is? And is this a racket I can cash in on too?
    Definately report them, but I suspect they already know about them. Can't be the first time they did this.
    They don't care. And what law have they broken?

    protip: there are ******** out there

  8. #8
    splash splash1986's Avatar
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    They weren’t secret at all, were very open about who they were and what they were doing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AllDownhillFromHere View Post
    They don't care. And what law have they broken?
    IDK, but you would think they would care about the Golden Rule. As I recall, they're supposed to care about it.

  10. #10
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    While hikeing in Maryland in early June and in lower PA in early
    Sept. we came across groups of your folks, high school groups in a type of "upward bound" situation and
    freshmen groups in freshman orientation from a local university in a bonding experience I take it.
    I suppose the size as bout 10-15 including leaders. At one shelter they found about any available space there.
    Mostly they slept under low tarps with maybe 5-10 under one tarp.
    In all these cases they were well led and well behaved and respectful of others in the vicinity.
    They pretty much stayed to themselves though their leaders would describe their experiences.
    Last edited by PGH1NC; 10-20-2019 at 20:32. Reason: typo

  11. #11
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    no biggie. it's the AT today as we know. don't like it, don't stay at shelters or established campsites

  12. #12
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    Default 104 Pilgrims at Standing Indian

    Quote Originally Posted by skater View Post
    I think it was an outrageous and inexcusable violation of all good hiker and trail norms. I can't say that there was any better action than what you did. Actually, I think you showed tremendous restraint.

    If at any point this group passed through a wilderness area, they likely violated USFS regulations and could have been ticketed. However, I don't know how you could have reached a ranger at that time. Short of gathering information on the group members to pass on to officials, which could have placed you at risk, I think you did all that was possible.
    I encountered a similar experience on Tray Mountain about 3 years ago. If I remember correctly this group of about 35 "marching" about 30 inches apart were from a Saturday Adventist training facility somewhere in the area and were having a bonding experience before departing into the world for missionary work. This was extremely disarming. No way can back country sites absorb such a heavy impact. Just the sanitary issues are overwhelming. But it seems that the entire southern AT, especially during the bubble season, is being overwhelmed by far too much traffic. How long before health officials will have to begin limiting the number of hikers on the trail one time?

    I was at Derrick Knob Shelter in the Smokies in early September. When I when to use the potty on the non-water side of the mountain, I encountered what looked like more than a hundred "flowers" of unburied toilet paper. Now if the paper was unburied, then surely what goes with it was also not buried. This seems to be an fast expanding problem at all shelters without privies. Now at some shelterers the Poop side too the mountain is not clearly delineated with signage. This probably means that the water source is probably or potentially contaminated with fecal material and the health hazards that go along with it.

    While I am at it, what about the major about of horse poop along the trails that surely finds its way into the areas streams. Probably a few parts per million horse poop? n top of this, horses basically destroy trail sections that are narrow and on real steep slopes. Horses and their s***** don't belong on steep mountain trails.


    On a positive note,104 hikers trodding down the vegetation must be as effective as an ATC SWEAT crew in clearing the trail.

  13. #13

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    Yes, Standing Indian Mountain is in the Southern Nantahala Wilderness Area. Group size is limited to 10. Sad that some groups are clueless or just completely disregard any rules.

  14. #14
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    How was the weather? Any rains from Tropical Storm Nestor or did that stay to the South? I imagine they picked National Forest lands to avoid the whole permit and campground fees. With a group that large, each individual is anonymous so of course your protests about "outdoor ethics" and "leave no trace" would fall on deaf ears.

    I'm curious about how they handle the whole "bring ONLY what is on the (very specific) packing list" thing. Is that about prohibiting booze and tobacco? I'm curious about their planning and how they are bringing that many people to the top of a mountain, but can't manage an advance team to have those two guys on the mountain much earlier to say "man, there's going to be a lot of people up here."

    When they got settled in, did all 104 whip out a jet boil stove or was there some sort of group cooking? I've led groups before, but since this seems more like experience than process, it's got me curious.

  15. #15
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    As soon as I heard "104", I would have been out of there, unless I was completely exhausted.

    Although I try not to stealth camp if possible, I have resorted to it when trails/shlters/campsites have been overrun with people.

  16. #16

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    You’re not the only one with mixed emotions

  17. #17

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    Ran into something similar last year. Maybe 40-50 of them. Some sort of spiritual self realization thing. Learning self respect, reliance, I dunno. Just struck me as weird. My paranoid friend who was hiking with me thought it had to be some sort of CIA training. Yeah...
    Anyway they were southbound and I was northbound so never saw them again, just in passing.
    The most interesting part was seeing how they were equipped. Some had legitimate gear, others look like they raided Walmart with no idea what they were about to do.
    I want to say they had some sort of encampment/feeding station/whatever a few miles south of Betty Creek Gap.
    Last edited by GaryM; 10-20-2019 at 23:01. Reason: a bit more...
    ./~Hi ho, hi ho, it's up the trail I go ./~

  18. #18

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    The outdoors should be for everyone, but people who lead large groups like this into the backwoods are jerks. They are ruining the experience for any one in the vicinity and when they camp, they are likely breaking many LNT principles. Rude, inconsiderate and ignorant. I don't care what their "purpose" is, or what they purport to stand for.

  19. #19
    splash splash1986's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by glenlawson View Post
    How was the weather? Any rains from Tropical Storm Nestor or did that stay to the South? I imagine they picked National Forest lands to avoid the whole permit and campground fees. With a group that large, each individual is anonymous so of course your protests about "outdoor ethics" and "leave no trace" would fall on deaf ears.

    I'm curious about how they handle the whole "bring ONLY what is on the (very specific) packing list" thing. Is that about prohibiting booze and tobacco? I'm curious about their planning and how they are bringing that many people to the top of a mountain, but can't manage an advance team to have those two guys on the mountain much earlier to say "man, there's going to be a lot of people up here."

    When they got settled in, did all 104 whip out a jet boil stove or was there some sort of group cooking? I've led groups before, but since this seems more like experience than process, it's got me curious.
    Weather was great Friday..... lots of rain Saturday though. I managed to finish up Saturday evening, as the rain was not showing any signs of stopping. The first guys who arrived did tell me they were bringing a large group, however it was close to dark at that point and I was already set up where I was. In hindsight, I would have moved if I had known how bad it was going to be.

  20. #20

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    Contacting the appropriate authority for the area may result in a letter being dispatched, perhaps along with basic rules of etiquette. Not a lot that could be done at the time, though given the late hour the group stayed up, I would figure they would have a difficult time getting started in the morning. Being an early riser, sometime around 4:30 am or so, I might have packed up and kept/foiund something loud to bang on to help each and every person was awake and ready to start their day, I'm sure everyone would be grateful.

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